Motability and CALLUM Designs create wheelchair accessible EV concept

The company behind the UK’s Motability scheme has teamed up with renowned design house CALLUM to develop a vision of a new accessible electric vehicle.

eVITA is a next-generation EV concept designed specifically to meet the needs of wheelchair users.

More than 34,000 Motability customers use wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAV) but very few EVs are currently suitable for conversion. This has led to fears that Motability customers could be left behind in the EV transition.

To address this, Motability Operations joined forces with CALLUM which, under the guidance of founder Ian Callum and head of design Aleck Jones, set about developing an all-new vehicle that points to the direction the auto industry needs to take.

Among key features of the concept are a split tailgate with powered ramp for easy access, along with a low floor to ensure rear passengers are on the same level as those in the front seats. The eVITA also features large windows and a panoramic sunroof, as well as an accessible charging port and puddle lighting that marks out the space other drivers need to leave to allow safe access.

“The transition to electric simply won’t work unless it’s accessible for all,” said Andrew Miller, chief executive of Motability Operations.

“We have the largest fleet in the UK and three quarters of a million disabled customers who rely on their vehicles for their independence. Our customers aren’t the typical early EV adopters, they’re more representative of the wider population, and we know from first-hand insight what the challenges of having an EV will be for everyone. Without solutions and an equitable switch to electric, thousands of people could be left behind.

“This is most pressing for our customers who use wheelchair accessible vehicles as they don’t have an obvious or affordable solution to transition to a smaller EV. We were determined to find a way forward, and I’m absolutely delighted that we have developed the eVITA concept with CALLUM that genuinely has accessibility and inclusivity at the heart of its design, demonstrating what is possible.”

The eVITA’s interior was designed with input from current WAV users

Ian Callum, design director at CALLUM, commented: “Today, electric vehicles are not offering the functionality and flexibility required by WAV users.

“OEMs, their designers and engineers must plan ahead and embrace inclusive design principles to ensure that WAV users and disabled people are not forgotten in the transition to EVs. With eVITA, form and functionality have been developed in parallel, resulting in a well-considered, user-friendly EV that is both practical and stylish.”

The firms worked with Motability customers and wheelchair users to identify their priorities and issues with current WAV.

Among the innovative features of the eVITA are a winch to aid wheelchair users’ entry into the vehicle, two rear sliding doors with accessible release buttons, and a flip seat in the rear that provides flexible seating options that can be personalised to the occupants’ preferences.

A key requirement highlighted by users was access to all the infotainment, heating and air conditioning controls and features. The eVITA addresses this with a modular ‘utility bar’ in the rear that provides easy access to all these functions, and also includes charging ports for personal devices, hooks for hanging coats or bags, and as easy-to-reach storage, such as cup holders.

Andrew Miller, added: “Collaboration is key to making the EV transition a success for wheelchair users; we need our partners, manufacturers and policy makers to believe in better and to work alongside us to take action. eVITA shows what can be done. We are particularly grateful to Stellantis for its enthusiasm and technical support to develop our concept.”

Matt Allan

Matt is Editor of EV Powered. He has worked in journalism for more than 20 years and been an automotive journalist for the last decade, covering every aspect of the industry, from new model reveals and reviews to consumer and driving advice. The former motoring editor of, The Scotsman and National World, Matt has watched the EV landscape transform beyond recognition over the last 10 years and developed a passion for electric vehicles and what they mean for the future of transport - from the smallest city cars to the biggest battery-powered trucks. When he’s not driving or writing about electric cars, he’s figuring out how to convert his classic VW camper to electric power.

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